Michelin's Pro 4 Grip tyre is the latest addition to the French tyre manufacturer's Pro 4 range, and uses a new rubber compound for increased traction in the rain along with a puncture belt to better ward off punctures. The practical upshot is a puncture resistant tyre with great traction in the wet, and little weight or rolling resistance penalty.
That makes it an ideal choice for winter riding. The roads are in a bit of state; the winter hasn't been kind to them. And the persistent rain calls for a tyre that is grippier than the standard tyre. With a specific rubber compound Michelin claims the Pro 4 grip offers a 15% increase in grip compared to the Service Course variant of the same tyre. There is also a siped tread pattern on the shoulders that the regular Pro 4 doesn't have.
Another change beside the rubber compound is the profile of the tyre. Michelin say they've shaped the tyre to offer a larger contact patch when leaning the tyre over, to increase cornering grip over the regular Pro 4.
The only way to find out is the tyre is indeed as grippy as Michelin claims, is to do a comparison test with the Service Course. So that's what I did. On a wet rainy day, I rode a set route twice, on the same bike and wheels, first on the Service Course and then on the Grip tyres. I used the same tyre pressure and wore the same kit, to try and rule out any variables.
Firstly, the tyre showed good rolling resistance. Despite its extra weight there's very little real-world difference, in such conditions, when riding along a straight road and fully upright. Lean over into the corners and push the tyres onto their shoulders, replicating the same lean angles, and there is a tangible increase in grip. You can push the Grip a little harder than the Service Course. But as Michelin's claims indicate, it's marginal and the difference between the two tyres wasn't night and day. Yes you can certainly feel a bit more grip available, the tyre feels more secure and planted compared to the Service Course. Very steep climbs covered in rain water were also another area that showed the Grip to offer just that, more grip than the SC.
Not only is the Grip about offering extra grip, but it boasts better puncture resistance as well. Michelin have developed an Aramide reinforcing ply specifically for this tyre, and it's located in the crown and shoulder, so that's protection right across the tyre. They claim it's 20% more puncture resistance than the Service Course. I've been running these tyre on my steel winter training bike, riding daily, for the last few months, and I've not suffered a single puncture.
Not a conclusive test I know, punctures have a lot to do with luck and I'm having a good run at the moment. However, inspecting the tyre shows that the surface is in very good condition. There's a lack of holes, cuts or impregnated glass that a few other tyres on test bikes are showing after riding through the same winter weather.
All things considered, I've been thoroughly impressed with these tyres. I'm a fan of the regular Service Course, the Grip builds on that tyre with the extra puncture protection and grippier compound, with really no drawbacks. So it's a bit heavier, but not so much that you'll notice, and riding through the winter a little extra weight when it's used to prevent punctures is no bad thing.
It's not a slow tyre, so you could fit it to your best bike for winter riding, and take them off for the summer. Equally, they're a good set of tyres for year-round commuting and touring, where the puncture protection and extra grip trumps outright weight and rolling resistance performance.
The only downside is that they only offer them in a 23mm width. C'mon Michelin, make them in a 25mm.
A commendable tyre from Michelin that offers great puncture protection and increased grip in wet weather.
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Make and model: Michelin Pro 4 Grip
Size tested: 700x23c, 23-622
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The tyre dediated to difficult conditions - 15% more grip in the wet compared with the MICHELIN PRO 4 Service Course.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
15% more grip in the wet compared with the MICHELIN PRO 4 Service Course
Better drive when pedalling in the wet, better grip when leaning and better progressivity when leaning the bike in the wet:
- A novel rubber compound, effective on all types of roads and at all temperatures
- New specific tread design on the shoulders which optimises grip when leaning over
- New type of tyre profile giving a better contact patch on the ground when leaning so as to prevent loss of grip
A very high level of anti-puncture protection:+ 20% compared with the MICHELIN PRO 4 Service Course :
- The Aramide reinforcing ply developed specifically for this tyre is resistant to cuts on the crown and shoulders
- This protective ply now covers the whole rolling surface of the tyre, both centre and shoulders
Fantastic as a winter tyre for riding in the rain when the roads are covered in things more likely to puncture a bicycle tyre.
Fantastic in the few months I've been testing them, no cuts or marks to the surface of the tyre.
Yes they're a bit heavier than the Service Course, but not so much that they're really going to slow you down. They're not for racing, they're for training, riding, commuting or touring.
Perhaps not quite as supple as the Service Course, they did feel a bit stiffer at the same tyre pressures, on the same wheels and bike.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Confidence inspiring in the wet and adverse conditions.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Extra grip is a bonus on wet descents.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
There's no 25mm option.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.